By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
Two draws on the bounce – not ideal in a title race as tightly-contested as the one we’ve got on our hands this season.
To make matters worse, in practically any other season, the projected points total for Liverpool come the end of May would see them win the league comfortably by close to double digits – after years and years of underachieving, Liverpool have found themselves with a squad built to win every competition they find themselves in.
But of course, a certain Manchester City side just so happen to have simultaneously assembled arguably the most talented side the Premier League has ever seen. So yes, the draws against Leicester and West Ham hurt, but should we be having a meltdown in February with so much left to play for still?
The answer to that question is more complicated than a simple yes or no. I’d caution a guess in saying that it’d certainly be a rational thought to be slightly concerned with the last two performances, but to have a complete meltdown might be a tad too far.
Whatever your opinions on Leicester and West Ham, they’re clearly far from bottom tier Premier League clubs, and taking all three points was never going to be an easy task.
Although a few of the core players that contributed to the Premier League winning run of the Foxes have left the club, the truth is that team is still littered with talent – Claude Puel came in with a game plan and his players executed it well enough to share the points at Anfield.
It was nearly the same story against West Ham – the London stadium was always going to be a tough place for the Reds to pick up maximum points despite it being a rather favourable place for Liverpool in recent memory.
West Ham clearly made it a point to make every set piece count and nearly took all three points had a Declan Rice header found the top corner in a near miss. All in all, a disappointing week for Liverpool, but it could have been much worse.
City had their blip when they lost to Crystal Palace and Newcastle – let’s hope Liverpool’s blip were the two draws against Leicester and West Ham (a blip, no doubt, but a much more encouraging one than City’s, right?)
The imminent return of Trent Alexander-Arnold is paramount right now for the Reds. The absence of Joe Gomez is also proving to be a drastic detriment to Liverpool’s back line.
Having at least one of the two back – Trent managed 15 minutes against Bournemouth – will certainly provide more stability in defence while also, especially in Trent’s case, providing an attacking threat that is much needed on the right flank when Liverpool move forward.
On another note, I actually think that the Champions League tie against Bayern Munchen following the Bournemouth game will be a welcome relief for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Any pressure the boys are feeling from this title charge can be cast aside momentarily as they face the perennial top dogs in Germany – Liverpool can and should play this tie as if they have nothing to lose.
I’m quietly looking forward to this tie as I feel the Liverpool team will be free to play without the nerves of dropping points in such a pressurised title race. Every Liverpool fan wants the Premier League more than anything.
Should Liverpool bow out of Europe against Bayern, I hope it’s down to the fact that Jurgen reverted to his classic heavy metal style attacking football that leaves the defence lacking in the possibility of a counter from the opponents – nothing to be ashamed of should we be bested by the German side.
However, as this Champions League tie is still a few weeks away, Liverpool had to turn it’s attention toward the game against Bournemouth – the response from the squad and, maybe even more importantly, the Anfield faithful was immense.
Perhaps the best thing in sport, and particularly in the Premier League, is that the next opportunity is never too far away to make fans forget about little blips.